in Brazil - Burden of the Past, Promise of the Future. Special issue of Daedalus, Journal of the American Academic of Arts and Sciences, Spring 2000, pp. 29-56. Abstract: Part of a special issue on Brazil. Although Brazil has an awful reputation for its treatment of social issues, the statistics that have given rise to standard depictions of the country sometimes hide important differences, contrasts, and trends. It is generally believed that the country's social conditions are getting worse, when in reality most of the basic social indicators have shown steady increase and improvement. In addition, Brazil is undergoing a profound social transition that is altering the country and raising a new group of social and economic issues that were not considered in the past. As a result, the issue of who sets the new agenda for social change has important implications for which issues will be tackled, their priority, and the likelihood of their success. The writer outlines the new agendas that are having an impact on how social problems are dealt with.